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RE DISS-COVERY: DEEP PURPLE – MACHINE HEAD (1972/ 2024) (Warner)

Guess what? Deep Purple’s classic 1972 album is, following the 40th anniversary edition, in a deluxe 3 x CD/ LP/ Blu-Ray edition with a 60-page book remixed by DWEEZIL ZAPPA! It will also include an “In Concert 1972” and a set from Montreux from 1971. ‘Smoke on the Water’: the Zappa connection is obvious, I suppose! Dweezil says in his liner notes, “How did they come up with this?’ It’s got classical influences in the guitar and the keyboard, but then it’s got the blues and there’s little bits of funkiness. And you have this singer who has the most killer voice. All these things come together in a way where it doesn’t sound like commercial music, yet people got really excited about it. It’s a fascinating recipe.”


‘Highway Star’ begins the album, a 6-minute hard rocker, with interesting solos by both organist Jon Lord (showing slight classical inclinations) and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore (who mentioned Johann Sebastian Bach in the same breath as his guitar playing). Instrumentally there is nothing too flashy about ‘Maybe I’m A Leo’ (Deep Purple’s wonderful lead singer Ian Gillan’s birth sign), but it’s still a potent piece of revved up R&B rock, which would become part of the group’s live performance. ‘Pictures of Home’ is an oft-forgot Deep Purple classic with more extraordinary contributions from Lord and Blackmore, not forgetting Roger Glover’s bass break and Ian Paice’s octopoidal drumming, with a false ending to boot. ‘Never Before’ completes side one, and was the first choice for a single.


Side two has the legendary ‘Smoke on the Water’ about the Montreux Casino fire during the festival they played and the ensuing smoke over Lake Geneva; Blackmore says the four predominant notes were based on Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. ‘Lazy’ was a great ‘loosener’, like ‘Wring That Neck’ before it, a sprawling blues-rock inspired by Bluesbreakers mark Eric Clapton, ‘Steppin’ Out’ in particular; Lord and Blackmore have great fun on this one, and Gillan even plays some harmonica. ‘Space Truckin’, with throwaway lyrics about having a good time on Venus and Mars etcetera, was the final track on the original album and features a short drum solo; apparently it was played as a wake-up call on a Space Shuttle in 2003. The B-side of ‘Never Before’, ‘When A Blind Mind Cries’ was added as a bonus for the 25th anniversary edition.


You’ll have to wait until 29th March to hear what this latest manifestation of “Machine Head” sounds like - start saving as it is expected to be around £80 for the lot!

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